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Why we must avoid bringing culture into our service to God, by Pastor Oyemade

Nigeria @63: Where is the change agent role of the Church?

Sam Oyemade (FCA), president/pastor, Bearers of Light (BOL) Missions World Outreach, Lagos; also the managing partner at SO&C Compliance Services Nigeria spoke on the ministry’s 7th International Ministers Conference (IMC) scheduled for September 29 – 30, 2023, with the theme ‘Distincting the Nature of Christ as God and as Man. Excerpts by Seyi John Salau:

May we know a little about Bearers of Light (BOL) Missions World Outreach all about?

Bearers of Light (BOL) Missions World Outreach was established with an ultimate mission to evangelize pastors and ministers of God, who would in turn evangelise the world as commissioned by the Lord. Our ultimate mission is to evangelize pastors and ministers of God for them to in turn evangelise the people. I have always been working for God, especially as a trainer in a lot of churches in and outside Lagos, doing the same thing; that is, sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ and building leadership. I have been doing this for several years.

What is the aim of the yearly conference?

The aim is to reach out to ministers beyond the class to impact them to go impact others, particularly their followers after each conference. It is usually an open and interactive conference of ministers from all walks of life. The ministers, who may not be able to come to the class, may be due to far distance, hooks up online.

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Can you tell us about last year’s 6th IMC themed, ‘Tradition vs Christ’?

The 6th BOL International Ministers Conference last year 2022 was wonderful. We have its video clips. It was a wonderful time because we were able to separate Christ from the traditions of men; admitting that we are all people born in a culture. We all live in a culture. So, there is a high tendency for us to bring culture into our services to God. We bring culture into Christianity and it settles in. Even the way we conduct our services, culture settles in because it is us. There are many ways in our culture that are contrary to the Christian way. It is just the traditional attire, if it does not go beyond that into the message, into what is permissible, into what we practise or into how we pray. There is a way we pray using traditional sayings or proverbs. For instance, some people use incantations to pray because it is us. Some of them will think they are mere proverbs or sayings whereas some proverbs or sayings have deeper meanings. For instance, how can you explain this proverb, “a calabash you put in the hand of God cannot break” in a supposed Christian prayer? We filter and import such traditional proverbs or sayings into Christianity; which shouldn’t be. There are lots of them (traditional proverbs or sayings) that you may not even know are contrary to the Christian faith until you begin to pay attention to them. I don’t know where Jesus was praying for his enemy to fall down and die. I shouldn’t even go into that, which is apparently witchcraft prayer.

Building on the success of the last edition; what is the focus of this year’s IMC?

With the 7th BOL International Ministers Conference we want to look at the nature of Christ. We want to distinguish when Christ is acting as man, and when Christ is acting as God. This is an issue of dual nature. It is a difficult discourse but we have to look at it. Do we really have the dual nature of Christ? Is there a time we can be absolutely God? Is there a time we can be 100 percent God? Is there a time we can be 100 percent man? These are some of the tough issues or questions we will look at, at this year’s conference. The purpose is to ensure we don’t have too much expectation from ourselves. For instance, if I hold a revival of 1, 000 participants, and I say I will pray and everyone at the revival will be healed. That means I’m stepping out of my bounds. When we operate as man; people shouldn’t see us as superman, otherwise when we fall sick the people will ask, can’t we pray for ourselves? That is where deception starts. When we operate as leaders without arrogating any special thing to ourselves we will live normally. The conference will also reach out to non-ministers and followers who love God and want to know more about the things of God. But, basically, we are focusing on leaders because Jesus warned; strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter. If the shepherds are in good shape, that is, doing what they are supposed to do, there are good chances that the sheep will follow suit.

How would you describe the impact of the conference so far?

From the feedback lots of people are asking us to do it more frequently. Almost everybody that comes the first time asks, why don’t you do it quarterly? To do it quarterly is not a problem. To do it constantly is not a problem, but to bring people. It is not easy because we are not a church and that is a major disadvantage. If the Redeemed Church says they are doing a programme now, people will be there because there are millions of committed people in that organisation. But for us, our own committed people are essentially those who just love God and want to hear the whole truth of the gospel.

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As a teaching and leadership training ministry, how will you describe the impact of Bearers of Light (BOL) generally in the body of Christ in Nigeria?

Bearers of Light (BOL) has trained and graduated over a thousand ministers and leaders across different church denominations. We essentially run a Bible school. We are not running a church. We only focus on leadership, and we have trained a lot of ministers of the gospel and leaders from different church backgrounds. I believe we are there to strengthen the shepherds. We are not competing with them. We are here simply doing what Aaron did to Moses. That is what we do essentially. And I believe Jesus will say to us someday well done thou faithful servant because we are committed to doing our own portion in his vineyard, and the feedback we get are quite encouraging. We have a theological class where we award degrees in conjunction with Teleo University in America. We run regular and weekend classes for pastors, evangelists, ministers and other offices of Christian or ministerial leadership. We have what we call the Stephens’ class, the DMC Master class and the TNET class.

Will you be doing this alone or do you have other ministers that support you?

We have Dr. Emiko Amotsuka, a veteran preacher of the gospel and seasoned teacher of the Word. He has been in the ministry for over 40 years. He understands the subject matter very well. He has featured in virtually all our conferences. He is excited to be available again this time. We have Bishop Abraham Olaleye, who has also been featuring in our conferences. He is also a notable man of God and an apostle of reformation. We have other resourceful ministers who also have the depth of the subject matter, like Dr. Femi Aribisala; a renowned Christian author who used to run a church but now runs a fellowship. We have Pastor Kayode Oyedepo; a medical doctor who also pastors a church; he is also very sound. We have Pastor Olaide Odusote, also featuring at this year’s 7th BOL international minister’s conference.